Another meeting followed on August 1st, which included the Parent Committee, Site Council, Carol VanWormer, Becky Cooke, and John Glenewinkel (superintendent of East Valley Schools). At this meeting the concerns for the program funding were very clearly stated, and John Glenewinkel was very helpful with providing an objective view of how Homelink operates. The meeting did provide discussion of a new possibility, that East Valley could participate in a transition year for Homelink, with the intention of taking over the program (under district hosting), while allowing it to remain in the buildings at Deer Park.
By the end of the meeting, we were able to get some answers on several things that give us an idea of how the program in Deer Park will look in the fall. These are confirmed to the best of our ability, although with continuing changes, there may be additional adjustments to the following:
- Shorten the school year by 4 weeks for non-academic students (saves $10,000/week)
- Limit students to 5 classes per week, which allows the elimination of 40-50 classes (saves $1000/class)
- Increase classroom supply budget to previous levels.
- Shorter day due to no bussing before or after classes, while keeping lunchtime bussing (saves $25,000)
- A reduced curriculum allottment of $250 per student (with possible exceptions made for high-need students)
- No private lessons outside of Home Link classes per the Board
- Two full-time and one part-time consultants laid off at the end of the school year, and one retired that will not be replaced (two vacant consultant positions will be re-hired if enrollment numbers remain at previous levels)
So what can parents/families do if they are unsatisfied with the changes to DP Homelink? The superintendent at East Valley School District is very willing to host our program which would provide the following for families that switch:
- Budgeted $500 per student curriculum allotment.
- Will rent a facility on the North side of Spokane (looking into locations already)
- Students enrolled in EV district can join any district program like the Aviation High School at Felts Field, or utilize their EV Online or Virtual Learning Options.
- Although state has eliminated private lessons, they are willing to think outside the box and look at options like contracting with private studios or instructors - as long as it is permissible within the laws.
- Willing to start a parent-driven, student-centered program with a minimum of 50 students, with 300 students the program would look and feel very similar to DP Homelink, with 500 students John is confident his district could provide "a Cadillac program".
- Superintendent of EV has years of experience starting and running ALE programs.
- Board Chairman's wife works for District 81's Homelink Program (TEC), and has a passion for alternative learning. He also has four more years as an unopposed chairman.
- EV believes it is possible to grow a program right after state budget cuts rather than reduce a program.
- They are willing to financially carry the program until we can grow and support ourselves.
Many details are still being worked out on a daily basis. Ultimately, we have had open and transparent conversations with EV’s Superintendent, Board President and Business Manager. They are extremely supportive of alternative learning, providing the best education for each child and allowing the parents to be involved.
If you are interested in exploring what EV has to offer, please consider taking action in the following ways:
- Attend an informational meeting with EV Superintendent John Glenewinkel on Tuesday, August 9th, frm 7-9pm at Crossover Church (on Hwy 2, across from Cat Tales).
- Using the "contact us" page at the EV website, tell them you would like to enroll for this fall -- this does NOT obligate you to switching programs, it simply gives EV a known quantity of interested families for planning purposes, as well as communicates to DP Homelink/Becky Cooke that you are willing to switch districts.